A U.S. citizen can sponsor the following relatives for a Permanent Resident Card, otherwise known as a Green Card:
What does Sponsorship Mean?
The U.S. immigration system prioritizes keeping families together. For this reason, there is a process designed specifically to allow U.S. citizens to ask that their close relatives be given a Green Card. This way, said relatives can join their family already living in the United States.
When you sponsor a relative, you are telling the U.S. government that:
- This relative wishes to become a permanent U.S. resident
- You believe this relative will be a responsible, law-abiding U.S. resident
- The information you include in the petition is honest and complete to the best of your knowledge
Per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the process of sponsoring a relative differs depending on where your relative currently resides. If they are outside of the U.S., they can apply for an immigrant visa. If they already live in the U.S., you can apply for an adjustment of status.
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How to Sponsor a Relative
To sponsor any relative, you must complete all of the proscribed steps to the satisfaction of the U.S. government. You have the right to hire a family-based immigration lawyer to help you with this process.
The first thing you (and your lawyer) will likely have to do is fill out the appropriate form. This form—such as Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative—will ask you for information about:
- Your relationship to the relative you are sponsoring
- Your marital history
- Your employment history
- Your address history
- Your current immigration and citizenship status
Along with the form, you must submit the appropriate fee to file your petition: different forms require different payments. The relative you are sponsoring must also fill out the right forms to petition for their Green Card. The forms for the I-130 and the green card may, in some cases, be filed concurrently.
Once you have both filled out all the necessary paperwork, the U.S. government will review the materials you submitted. This process may take months or years, depending on what kind of relative you are sponsoring.
If the Government Denies Your Application
The immigration system in the U.S. can be very complicated, even if you are a U.S. citizen who can sponsor relatives for permanent residency. For this reason, it is easy to make a mistake that could delay or derail your petition.
Hiring an immigration lawyer to handle your case could protect you from such mistakes: they are familiar with the law and can make sure everything goes smoothly. In addition, if your application is denied, your lawyer can work quickly to:
- Identify the reason for the denial
- Advise you on what to do next
- Work with all involved parties to resolve the problem and get your petition moving again
Sponsoring a relative for a Green Card can be a long, stressful, and arduous process. Allowing an immigration attorney to represent you in this matter can relieve you of much of the confusion and uncertainty involved in this process.
How Many Relatives Can I Sponsor?
That depends on the relationship between you and the relatives you wish to sponsor for permanent residence.
A U.S. citizen may sponsor as many immediate relatives—that is, spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents—as they want.
When it comes to other types of relatives—such as siblings, cousins, and married children—you may have to wait longer. The United States provides a very limited number of visas for such relatives per year.
What About Stepchildren?
If you have a stepchild, adopted child, or stepparent that you would like to sponsor for permanent residence, you may do so under certain conditions. For example, if you married the child’s biological parent while the child was still a minor (i.e., under 18), you could sponsor them for permanent residency the same as a biological child – USCIS however may request additional information regarding this relationship.
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Petitions from Citizens Versus Permanent Residents
As the U.S. government explains, there is some overlap between which relatives a U.S. citizen may sponsor versus which relatives a Green Card holder may sponsor. For example, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), both groups have the right to sponsor their:
There are, however, crucial differences that your family should be aware of before you start any application process. For instance, a citizen may sponsor their parent or sibling, but a permanent resident may not.
If you are still not sure which relatives you can and cannot sponsor, consider getting in touch with an immigration attorney. They can guide you through the sponsorship process.
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Want Help Sponsoring a Relative?
Not only can New Frontier Immigration Law answer your questions about what relatives a U.S. citizen can sponsor, but we can also help you apply to sponsor your relative and address any challenges as they arise. Call today to get a strategic session with a member of our team.